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Latin/Know thyself.

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Question
Please explain to me the difference between "nosce te ipsum" and "temet
nosce".

Thanks,

Danny

Answer
Hello,

Both “Nosce te ipsum” and “Temet nosce” mean “Know thyself” which is the English translation for the Greek aphorism “Γνῶθι σεαυτόν” (transliterated as  “Gnōthi seautόn”) written on the pediment of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece.

The difference between “Nosce te ipsum” and “Temet nosce”  is the fact that Latin can use “te ipsum” as well as “temet” to say “yourself/thyself”, and moreover can use a different word order, so that in “Nosce te ipsum” the direct object “te ipsum” is after the imperative “Nosce” (Know), while in “Temet nosce” the direct object “temet” is before the imperative “nosce”.

Please note that “te ipsum” (accusative masculine singular) is composed of the 2nd person singular pronoun “te” (literally, “you”) and the adjective “ipsum” (literally, “self”), whereas “temet”  (accusative masculine singular ) is composed of the 2nd person singular pronoun “te” (literally, “you”) and the suffix “-met” (literally, “self”).

Read more below.

Best regards,

Maria
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Note that:

-NOSCE (2nd person singular, imperative of the verb “nosco”)= Know

-TE (direct object, accusative singular of the 2nd person pronoun “tu”) IPSUM ( accusative masculine singular of the adjective IPSE agreeing with TE)= thyself /yourself
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-TEMET (direct object, accusative singular of the 2nd person pronoun + the enclitic suffix MET)= thyself/yourself

-NOSCE (2nd person singular, imperative of the verb “nosco”)= Know

As you can see, Latin word order can be different from English because Latin is an inflected language where grammatical relationships are indicated by the ending of each word, not by their order.

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Maria

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I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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